Polanski Unbound

July 14, 2010

It seems the best advice you can give someone who is planning to drug and sodomize 13-year-old girls is that they should work toward becoming an acclaimed filmmaker, because that is their get-out-of-jail free card right there.

From the BBC –

Switzerland rejects US extradition of Roman Polanski

Authorities in Switzerland have decided not to extradite film director Roman Polanski to the US to face sentencing for a case dating back to 1977.

Polanski, aged 76, has been under house arrest in his Swiss chalet since December 2009 pending the decision.

The filmmaker is wanted in California over a conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Polanski was originally charged with six offences including rape and sodomy over the 1977 case.

In 1978, he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex following a plea bargain. He served 42 days in a US prison.

He has always maintained he was promised a short sentence, but he fled the US after hearing rumours that the judge was about to re-sentence him for a much longer term. He has never returned to the US.

When I first heard about the scandal of Roman Polanski having sex with an underage girl I was fairly young at the time, knew very little about the details of the case, and imagined it was something akin to the scenario outlined by Randall P McMurphy in the film adaptation of Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest when he attempts to explain his statutory rape charge. “She was fifteen goin’ on 35, Doc. I had to take to sewing my pants shut.” I didn’t find this acceptable but at the same time, ignorant of the details of the case, I imagined a distasteful crime that was nonetheless relatively minor. However, as more details transpired, I found it became considerably more difficult to overlook what this man had done.

A website, The Smoking Gun, has posted the unsealed minutes of the grand jury hearing in which the victim, 13-year-old Samantha Gailey (now Samantha Geimer) gave her account of the sexual assault Roman Polanski had carried out on her in March 1977 at a house belonging to Jack Nicholson. The summarized details are as follows –

  • Roman Polanski first met Samantha Gailey in February 1977, being somehow acquainted with her family. He showed her a Vogue magazine photo-shoot he had done, asked her if she would like him to take her picture for French Vogue and, when she agreed, took her to the hills near her home where he photographed her topless after instructing her to partially undress.
  • Approximately one month later, on March 10th 1977, Roman Polanski came to the home of Samantha Gailey to pick her up and take her for another photo-shoot at the residence of a friend of his. Gailey had testified to a reluctance to being photographed again by Polanski and her desire to be accompanied by a friend this second time but that she did not mention this to Polanski then because he was “rushing” her.
  • After approximately one hour of shooting photographs at this residence (where 5 other individuals were present) Polanski, stating that the light was too dim, called a home he said belonged to Jack Nicholson to ask permission to continue photographing Gailey there.
  • Polanski drove Samantha Gailey to this house where she was introduced to a dark-haired woman present (later identified as the actress Anjelica Huston, unknown to Gailey at the time). After offering Gailey a drink, Polanski produced a bottle of champagne. Polanski, Huston and Gailey then drank a glass of champagne each before Huston left the house.
  • Polanski began taking pictures of Gailey posing around the house. On his instruction, Gailey once again partially removed her clothes and continued drinking champagne. Polanski photographed Gailey in various topless poses, holding and drinking from the champagne glass.
  • Roman Polanski then indicated to Gailey that he wished to photograph her in the outdoor jacuzzi of the home. Before doing so, Polanski produced a Quaalude (Methaqualone) tablet broken into different parts which both he and Gailey ingested.
  • Samantha Gailey attempted to enter the jacuzzi wearing her underwear but was instructed by Polanski to remove her underwear before entering the jacuzzi fully nude. After a short time taking pictures, Polanski told Gailey that he was going to get in the jacuzzi. He walked into the house and returned, having removed all of his clothes.
  • Polanski entered the jacuzzi and, according to Gailey, settled in the middle of the pool and instructed Gailey to join him there. Gailey had moved to the edge of the pool once Roman Polanski had entered and replied to him “No, I’ve got to get out”. Despite her protests, Gailey eventually ceded to Polanski’s request and joined him in the centre of the pool where he held his hands around her waist. Feigning an asthmatic irritation (she did not have asthma), Gailey got out of the pool and wrapped herself in a towel.
  • Polanski then instructed Samantha Gailey to join him in the swimming pool. Gailey entered the pool, swam from one end to the other and exited. She then went to a bathroom inside the house to dry herself before instructing Polanski that she wished to be taken home because she needed to take some medicine. Polanski then instructed Gailey to enter a bedroom and lie down, advising her that it would make her feel better.
  • Gailey states that she told Polanski she had to return home, she also states that she was afraid of Roman Polanski at this time. In the bedroom, Gailey sat on a couch wearing her underwear and a towel. Polanski sat beside her and began kissing her to which Gailey protested, “No, keep away“.
  • Gailey states that she continued to protest for Polanski to stop and that she wished to return home. Roman Polanski then began performing oral sex on Gailey. Gailey continued to protest, telling Polanski, “No, stop it“. Gailey testified to feeling intoxicated at the time and of continuing to be afraid of Roman Polanski.
  • Roman Polanski began having intercourse with Gailey. Gailey states she continued to protest, saying, “No, stop” but that she did not really fight Polanski because “there was no one else there and I had no place to go”. Whilst having intercourse with Gailey, Polanski asked the 13-year-old if she was “on the pill” and asked when she had her last period. Gailey replied that she was not using the contraceptive and she could not accurately recall her last period.
  • Roman Polanski told Gailey “I won’t come in you then” and began anally penetrating Gailey. Gailey testified that she continued not to resist due to being afraid of Polanski. At this time, the sexual assault was interrupted by Anjelica Huston who had returned to the residence and knocked on the bedroom door inquiring after Polanski.  Polanski talked to the woman through the door, stating that he was undressed after swimming. He then resumed having anal intercourse with Gailey until he climaxed.
  • Afterward, Gailey dressed and left the bedroom. She met Anjelica Huston in another part of the house and exchanged a brief greeting before exiting the house and getting into Polanski’s car where she states she sat crying for some ten minutes before Polanski emerged and drove her home.

The grand jury went after Polanski with charges covering pretty much all the heinous shit Gailey testified to; from rape to giving drugs to a minor, but, apparently in an effort to protect Gailey’s anonymity, a plea bargain was arranged for the lesser crime of unlawful sex with a minor to which Polanski pleaded guilty. He was ordered to serve a 90-day period of psychiatric evaluation in prison, of which he served a 42-day stint in Chino State Prison. Upon his release there, and prior to final sentencing, Polanski heard that he was going to be given a further prison sentence and not the probation he was expecting (and had allegedly been promised) so he promptly fucked off to France, his status as a French citizen rendering him immune to extradition. Samantha Geimer (née Gailey), having come to a financial settlement with Roman Polanski in the mid 1990s, has stated several times that she considers the matter closed and that the case should be dropped and Polanski allowed to return to the United States. This is often cited by defenders of Polanski as a compelling argument against further pursuit of him on the charges. For a powerful rebuttal, we can turn to Christopher Hitchens, who wrote

It’s affecting in some ways that the original girl in the case has forgiven him and doesn’t want to see the matter reopened, but strictly speaking it’s of no more relevance than if she had said the same thing at the time. The law prosecutes those who violate children, and it does so partly on behalf of children who haven’t been violated yet. We take an individual instance, whoever the individuals happen to be, and we use it for precedent. And we do not know how lucky we are to be able to do so.

Now Roman Polanski is once again a free man, the Swiss authorities that nabbed him in October last year on an international arrest warrant (when he traveled to the Zurich Film Festival to collect a prize) claiming that US authorities failed to provide necessary documents relating to the original court rulings against him, which were required to determine if there were sufficient grounds to extradite.

This man never properly answered for his crime, despite acknowledging his own guilt, and instead chose to flee before the law. Despite the seeming widespread support Roman Polanski continues to receive from various film industry figures and celebrities, there are some dissenting opinions out there, not least among them that of actor Jamie Foxx who said of the case “If it had been my daughter who was barely a teenager — my daughter is 15 — Roman Polanski would be missing … period.”


One comment

  1. I think a lot of people had a similar memory of this whole thing. As in, not quite knowing the details of it and thinking it was probably some kind of misunderstanding. I was guilty of that, actually, until all this came back into the news. When I looked up the case, I was stunned at the details, to say the least.

    So yeah, it’s a pretty simple case. He has yet to pay for his crime. They finally have him in custody. There’s nothing to debate.

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